Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. But beyond that, his grasp of language, his ability to paint with words, makes me green with envy. It’s a thing that is almost diametrically opposed to how I write. My writing is sparse, workmanly, and more suited to the business letter than the novel. I think my sometimes puritanical mother drummed the adjectives out of my writing by constantly pushing me to say more with fewer words. I suppose that can be a useful skill to have at times, but it now I frustrate myself when I try to write descriptively.
Gaiman seems to be a walking thesaurus, with the right words for every situation dripping from his fingertips. I tell myself that this is a learned skill, much like any other learned skill, and that with much practice I too can improve my grasp of language. But I was also an Art Major who couldn’t draw and have a deep appreciation for music though I never became particularly accomplished with any of the instruments that I most enjoy. While it’s wonderful that I understand what is happening when jazz musicians improvise, or when an abstract painter creates the illusion of movement through a painting I’d still rather have developed a talent for such things myself.
But I’ll offer this “thank you” to Mr. Gaiman for being inspirational, even if reading his work often causes me to cringe when I sit down to express my own thoughts in writing.